Kentucky lawmakers will decide sports gambling issue, Gov. Matt Bevin says
The governor said he would not lead the effort to bring sports gambling to Kentucky, but he refused to condemn the idea and said he would need to see any legislation before deciding whether to sign it.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – A day after a Supreme Court ruling cleared the way for sports betting across the U.S., Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin said it’s “way too early” to say if he would support a wagering bill in the state.
Bevin told reporters in Frankfort that he would not lead the effort to bring sports gambling to Kentucky, but he refused to condemn the idea and said he would need to see any legislation before deciding whether to sign it.
In a radio interview earlier Tuesday, the Republican governor insisted there is strong support and opposition to betting on sports in the state. Even so, he cautioned against counting on any new revenue as the solution to Kentucky’s well-documented financial challenges, such as an underfunded public pension system.
“I can’t even begin to guess what the complete legal appetite or political appetite is or policy appetite is for our legislature,” Bevin told WKCT in Bowling Green. “We’ll figure that out in future sessions.”
In his public remarks, the governor sought to distinguish sports gambling from casino-style betting, which he once called a “sucker’s bet” and said he still opposes. Without citing specific evidence, he told WKCT that public opinion in the state still doesn’t favor casinos.
“The bulk of people in Kentucky do not want casino gambling and the bulk of our legislators don’t seem anxious for it, and as I’ve always said there’s no political appetite for it,” Bevin said. “I agree with that personally. I’m not a proponent of casino gambling. At the same time, we’ve always had sports betting in this state.”
The high court’s ruling on Monday struck down a 1992 law that effectively outlawed gambling on amateur and professional games in the U.S., with the exception of Nevada and several other states. The decision leaves states in control of deciding whether to legalize sports wagering.
Bevin had joined the governors of Maryland and North Dakota, and authorities in 18 other states, in filing a “friend of the court” brief last September in the case. In the filing, the states took no position on sports betting but argued that the law prevented states from “exercising core regulatory powers reserved to them and their citizens” under the Tenth Amendment of the Constitution.
Speaking on WKCT, Bevin said the high court’s 6-3 decision was the “proper ruling.”
“I think for the federal government to pick winners and losers among states on anything -- this or anything else -- is a mistake,” he said.
Anticipating the Supreme Court might reverse the law, Kentucky legislators filed two bills in this year’s General Assembly to legalize sports betting. They included a measure sponsored by Democratic Reps. Dean Schamore of Hardinsburg and John Sims Jr., of Flemingsburg that would have allowed the Kentucky Lottery Corporation to oversee the new type of wagering.
That bill and another measure introduced by Democratic Sen. Julian Carroll of Frankfort stalled in committees. The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission would have been in charge of sports betting under Carroll’s bill.
Several Kentucky lawmakers have said this week they plan to pursue sports wagering legislation.